Ceramide synthases (CerS) synthesize chain length specific ceramides (Cer), which mediate cellular processes in a chain length-dependent manner. In experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS), we observed that the genetic deletion of CerS2 suppresses EAE pathology by interaction with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) signaling and CXC motif chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2) expression, leading to impaired neutrophil migration. In the present study, we investigated the importance of Cers and their synthesizing/metabolizing enzymes in MS. For this purpose, a longitudinal study with 72 MS patients and 25 healthy volunteers was performed. Blood samples were collected from healthy controls and MS patients over 1- or 3-year periods, respectively. Immune cells were counted using flow cytometry, ceramide levels were determined using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and mRNA expression was analyzed using quantitative PCR. In white blood cells, C16-LacCer and C24-Cer were down-regulated in MS patients in comparison with healthy controls. In plasma, C16-Cer, C24:1-Cer, C16-GluCer, and C24:1-GluCer were up-regulated and C16-LacCer was down-regulated in MS patients in comparison with healthy controls. Blood samples from MS patients were characterized by an increased B-cell number. However, there was no correlation between B-cell number and Cer levels. mRNA expression of Cer metabolizing enzymes and G-CSF signaling enzymes was significantly increased in MS patients. Interestingly, G-CSF receptor (G-CSFR) and CXCR2 mRNA expression correlated with CerS2 and UDP-glucose Cer glucosyltransferase (UGCG) mRNA expression. In conclusion, our results indicate that Cer metabolism is linked to G-CSF signaling in MS.

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